This is not 40.

I feel like I’ve been asking myself this question for almost a year now. I graduated college at the ripe age of 25, which is later than most people who aren’t, like, pursuing medical or law degrees or something other higher form of learning. I used to have talks with my roommate–who is also still in school–about whether we should feel weird or bad that we were among the older kids in our classes. I always said it wasn’t that big of a deal, because college isn’t high school and everyone is on their own time lines. Other factors come into play like finding a way to fund said education or working. Plus, it wasn’t like we weren’t working our butts off the entire time.

Anyways, here I am, about to turn 26 in a couple months and wondering if I’m “on schedule” with my life. Am I blossoming to an adult or am I still stuck in the rut of adolescence?

Maybe I’ve just been watching Girls too much. I constantly laugh but empathize with the way all of the characters are fiercely and sometimes detrimentally independent. They still receive financial support from their parents but at the same time they’re like “fuck you I don’t need you I’m an adult”. They host dinner parties and drink wine and act like everything is okay because this is what makes them adults. Like little kids playing dress up, they’re only playing the grown up game. The maturity level would suggest they are somewhere else entirely.

But I’m not writing this to criticize a TV show, but to ask myself if I’m just playing dress-up. On the grown-up end: I work, I pay my bills (with a little parental help), I buy groceries, I go out to bars and know that I like Chardonay but not Merlot. On the teen side: I still have celebrity crushes, I still read books about vampires, I still spend too much time eating pizza and browsing the internet and don’t clean my room as often as I should.

I’ve had so many conversations over this subject in the past few months I’ve lost count. Which is almost comforting in a way. It means all of us 20-somethings are asking the same questions and feeling similar feelings about adulthood. Being twenty is like going through a second adolescence. We still think we know everything, we still are dramatic, we still want to prove our independence,  but when the push really comes to shove and things get hard we still want someone to swoop in a take care of our problems for us.

One of these conversations was with a friend from my summer internship. She’s about a decade younger than my mom and a great pal and always has lots of great and wise advice to give. She told me “You’re still young. The twenties are for making mistakes. Date the wrong people, have mismatched furniture, stay out late, work crappy jobs and dream about where you want to be at 40. That’s all okay.”

Another conversation I had with an acquaintance in which we were catching up a bit and talking about what was going on with our lives. I admitted to him, “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, and I’m not going to pretend like I do.”  At some point between the two conversations I decided two things: 1) I’m not 40 yet. I don’t need to have it all together. 2) I’m not going to waste energy pretending like everything is perfect. As we talked I told him that I didn’t have the most glamourous job in the world, but I don’t mind what I do and it pays the bills while I figure stuff out. I said overall I’m happy and that’s what matters more to me than anything else.

I hate starting out on Monday thinking depressing thoughts. So if you are a 20 year old and you are reading this, take a deep breath. We are not 40. We can still be making mistakes and working boring/crappy jobs and sit on our weird hand-me-down couches while we watch The Vampire Diaries and eat microwave meals for dinner. As long as we don’t lose sight of who we are and what we do eventually want, we’ll all be okay. 🙂

Happy Monday Y’all.

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5 thoughts on “This is not 40.

  1. Katie! I LOVED this. (Especially: Being twenty is like going through a second adolescence. We still think we know everything, we still are dramatic, we still want to prove our independence, but when the push really comes to shove and things get hard we still want someone to swoop in a take care of our problems for us.) Could you have said it any better? I mean in the back of my head I’m like SOMEONE HELP! MAKE THE HARD DECISIONS! HELP TELEPORT ME FROM HARD SPOT A TO GOOD SPOT B! But at the same time there’s something completely liberating when you do figure out how to do it on your own. I constantly have absolutely no idea what I’m doing either, and I feel like I’m in this fuzzy, blurry weird grey area of life. But just like you said – it is so comforting to know it’s a giant boat that we all seem to be lamenting in together. And we are young. We have plenty of time to “get it together.” For the meantime I guess I should appreciate that, like our teenage years, this time is temporary too. Thanks for this post – it really made my day!

    • Yay I’m glad you liked it! I just feel like as people, we all spend so much time comparing ourselves to others and trying to out-do or keep up with those around us we get a little lost and forget about our own journeys. All paths in life are different 🙂

  2. Gosh I remember when I was a teen, I thought I would be living the high life in my twenties, not bouncing from job to job, starving to pay bills and trying to adjust last year’s fashions, this was supposed to Sex and the City 2.0 not Shameless. Although I must say I love Girls, it’s so real (even though I’m never as naked as much as Hannah) and hilarious. But yes, the twenties are the experimental ages, where we are allowed to mess up and make stupid mistakes, that’s why they make all those Hollywood movies about finding yourself.

    • That’s so funny that you mention Sex and the City, because when I graduated high school I was OBSESSED with that show and basically wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw. God, being such a TV fiend it’s so hard to remember that it’s all fictional and real life isn’t always that seamless or dramatic or glamourous. :p

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